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Chinese overtake Americans as top medical tourists in South Korea

中国超越美国成韩国医疗旅游市场最大客户 Chinese overtake Americans as top medical tourists in South Korea.jpg 

The Chinese overtook Americans as the biggest group of medical tourists to South Korea in 2012 for the first time since the Korean government started compiling the data.


In 2012, 32,503 Chinese tourists came to South Korea for medical services, says a recent report by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute. That represents 20.4% of all medical tourists.

韩国健康产业发展研究所(Korea Health Industry Development Institute, 简称KHID)近期发布报告称,2012年到韩国寻求医疗服务的中国游客共计32,503人次,占全部医疗游客的20.4%。

Americans made up 19.2%, with 30,582 visitors in 2012, the institute said. Japan, Russia and Mongolia followed with a weight of 12.4%, 10.3%, and 5.3%, respectively.


South Korea has been trying to find new growth engines in the service sector so it relies less on manufacturers like Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor.

韩国一直试图在服务行业寻求新的增长点,由此减少对三星电子(Samsung Electronics)和现代汽车(Hyundai Motor)等制造商的依赖。

Since the government changed laws to allow local hospitals to lure medical tourists from early 2009, large hospitals and cities have been actively trying to get more foreign patients.


Busan Metropolitan City plans to attract 30,000 foreign medical tourists this year and 200,000 by 2020, a sharp increase from 14,000 in 2012. The harbor city says it aims to become one of Asia's three largest medical tourism spots by 2020. Other such hotspots include India, Thailand and Singapore.


South Korea is well positioned to absorb rising demand for better health care and plastic surgery by China's growing middle class and Japanese looking for cheaper services.


According to the KHID's report, cosmetic surgery topped all other medical services in terms of growth rate. The number of foreign tourists who got plastic surgery in South Korea jumped from 2,851 in 2009 to 15,898 in 2012, representing an average annual growth rate of 77.3%.


The number of medical tourists grew from 60,201 from 141 countries in 2009 to 159,464 from 188 countries in 2012 — an average annual growth of 38.4% during the period. Income from medical services for foreigners rose from $51.3 million to $251 million in that period.


In 2012, 9,457 Americans came to South Korea to get treatment from physicians, and 9,833 Chinese visited plastic surgery doctors, representing around 62% of foreign patients using plastic surgery services, the report said.


Korea forecasts it will have one million inbound patients in 2020, accounting for $4.2 billion in medical-service income, according to the report.




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